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Lower heart rate

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Allgoodhits
285wannab
willnewton
Aprilian
LenV
Chris Miceli
Jon Eulette
weber1b
orpheoet
jglenn21
SteveT
chopper
Jwhelan939
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Post by Jwhelan939 8/20/2018, 11:10 am

Looking for some advice. My summer league shoots 2 rf and 2 cf matches each night. I have horrific issues with a pounding, rapid heart beat during the entire first nmc. It takes me a while for my heart rate to lower to a level in which it is not effecting my hold. It's entirely nerves. 

I already show up an hour before to "relax" before the match. I also try to focus in on my process and not think about anything else.

Would anyone happen to have any tips, thoughts, or advice? Thank you for your help.

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Post by chopper 8/20/2018, 11:48 am

I force a yawn sometimes or breath through my stomach. Kind a like yoga breathing, you inhale extending your belly and exhale tightening your abdomen muscles. During the commands I take 2-3 breaths, then breath in as I raise the gun and exhale a comfortable relaxed amount which could be half or any amount in my lungs as long as it's a feeling of comfort.
 I was like you when I first shot an evening league, I'd get there early and it didn't seem to help me either. I kind a eliminated it to eating a big supper and sugary desserts, ( love my wife and her intensions are good) but a full stomach is hard on you. I think it gets your stomach churning and moving that caused my arc-of-movement to increase. Then again it could have nothing to do with it other than causing gas, which the firing line didn't appreciate.
 I'm finally more relaxed now, probably from shooting more matches and leagues. For matches and tournaments I'm more serious with myself and for leagues more relaxed and having a fun time with other shooters.
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Post by SteveT 8/20/2018, 12:35 pm

First of all recognize that the excitement, including higher heart rate, is part of the reason we do this. If we didn't care about the match there would be no point in competing. Accept it. Welcome it. Embrace it.

Work on your hold and trigger. Heart rate all by itself does not generally have a huge effect on a shooter's hold and if the dot (or sight) is moving in a repeatable pattern it is not difficult to learn to activate the trigger as the dot comes into the center.

Deep breathing and self talk can help to calm nerves and lower heart rate. It may not work the first time, but like any other skill, should improve with practice. Don't expect a magic pill that solves the problem in one try, look for improvement over time.

Dry fire several times before starting live firing. This gets you into the shooting mindset. One tip that helps me, after a few good dry fires, recock the gun then load the magazine and dry fire one more. When I dry fire and then switch to live firing it is obvious to me (and my subconscious) that this time it is different because the gun is heavier with a loaded magazine. By loading the mag and still dry firing it is more of a progression from dry to live fire rather than a single step.

Visualization and self talk can help. Read Lanny Basham's With Winning in Mind. Visualize yourself on the line at an important match, excited but confident delivering good shots. You can't visualize too much.

Good luck.
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Post by Jwhelan939 8/20/2018, 12:51 pm

Thank you for the responses. 

Chopper, I really do not eat anything before matches. I do powerload water. I'll work on breathing.

Steve, I really don't see a huge difference in scores until it gets into my head and I send one into the 5 ring. I spend all my effort trying not to think about my pounding heart. I have started dry firing for the first couple minutes of SF. It has definitely helped a little. I'll definitely try the last dryfire before livefire. That makes sensei. I have read WWIM. But it has been a couple of years. I'll reread. 

Thank you again for your thoughts.

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Post by jglenn21 8/20/2018, 12:52 pm

quality bourbon Smile

yeah yeah I know
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Post by orpheoet 8/20/2018, 12:58 pm

Keep shooting, it'll go away. My first slow fire was always 10 points low or worse because of nerves. It stopped bothering me after the first year.
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Post by Jwhelan939 8/20/2018, 1:06 pm

Haha, bourbon Is for after the match!

I should add, this is my 4th season. I have never had this issue before this year. I will say that this is my first year being somewhat competitive. I am teatering on the cusp between Ss and ex with 2 nmc to go I have an 89.69% average. I think it really is just nerves. Maybe there is no real way to beat nerves. I just need to focus harder on my process.

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Post by weber1b 8/20/2018, 2:11 pm

I too have often struggled with the same thing. When I am relaxed and not thinking about the score, no issues. When I am thinking score I might as well think about going home. The hard part is learning how to turn that thought off. It's funny, I have more of an issue when it's only a NMC. When I am shooting a 900, I have less of a problem.

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Post by Jon Eulette 8/20/2018, 2:14 pm

Since your getting there early, go for a brisk walk and get your heart rate up. Then walk slow and cool down. You’ll find that it takes more to elevate it again. Try to learn how to treat your shot plan as a on/off switch. On to shoot the string and immediately off afterwards. Then BS with the other shooters between strings/scoring. Don’t constantly think about shooting. Work on the shot not the score. Scores are what raise heart rates! Match nerves are self inflicted. 
Jon
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Post by Chris Miceli 8/20/2018, 2:25 pm

I’d be more worried about blood pressure than heart rate.


Last edited by Chris Miceli on 8/20/2018, 3:15 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by LenV 8/20/2018, 2:32 pm

Don't watch the news before heading to the match. Laughing
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Post by Jwhelan939 8/20/2018, 2:50 pm

Weber, I read it, I know it, but it's so hard to not pay attention to score. I know your right and I will continue to get better at putting into practice. 

Jon, thank you. That all makes sense! I will try it all. 

Chris, my BP isn't perfect, but I take it ever morning. Generally I'm about 124/81. Hope your healing up. 

LenV I know you jest, but some days my talk radio needs to be turned off on the way to the range.

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Post by Chris Miceli 8/20/2018, 3:20 pm

Jwhelan939 wrote:Weber, I read it, I know it, but it's so hard to not pay attention to score. I know your right and I will continue to get better at putting into practice. 

Jon, thank you. That all makes sense! I will try it all. 

Chris, my BP isn't perfect, but I take it ever morning. Generally I'm about 124/81. Hope your healing up. 

LenV I know you jest, but some days my talk radio needs to be turned off on the way to the range.
i only mention it because, i don't have anything near high BP. All hooked up in my pre op surgical bed heart rate in the 60s but BP over 150. I didn't feel nervous but i must have been. The more matches you shoot i think the less nervous you will get. I agree a brisk walk before the match and time to recover and mentally relax.

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Post by Jwhelan939 8/20/2018, 3:39 pm

Very interesting. So the nerves can effect BP. Makes sense.

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Post by Aprilian 8/20/2018, 4:40 pm

I feel it too before a match.  Yesterday, I was very stressed as I had been out of town and forgot about the state tourney  Sad  until an hour before hand.   I got there just before the 3 minute prep and had to calm down fast.   From yoga, I find the best tool is to breathe in through the nose and exhale (longer than the inhale) through the mouth.  Repeat and, if you can, either clear your mind or just observe nature.   You should hear your heart rate drop and your breathing become more relaxed.   If you do it sitting in a chair with your eyes closed and your shooting muffs on, people should leave you alone.

Are you consuming caffeine before arriving to the match?  That will accentuate the heart rate increase and (in my experience) make it harder to calm your heart rate through my above suggestion.
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Post by Aprilian 8/20/2018, 4:42 pm

Jwhelan939 wrote:Very interesting. So the nerves can effect BP. Makes sense.
There is an actual condition called "white coat hypertension" - my BP goes up just knowing someone is going to take it!  If they take it two or three times during the visit, it always drops.
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Post by weber1b 8/20/2018, 4:46 pm

Aprilian wrote:Are you consuming caffeine before arriving to the match?  That will accentuate the heart rate increase and (in my experience) make it harder to calm your heart rate through my above suggestion.
I find sugar to be worse than caffeine. I need a little caffeine in the morning to get going so still drink it before a match, although in lesser quantity. But I have learned to avoid sugar before a match.

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Post by willnewton 8/20/2018, 4:52 pm

Jwhelan939 wrote:I do powerload water. 

Maybe don’t do this.  You are sending your digestive system into over drive.  Overstimulating the nerves there, which are actually nearly a brain unto itself.  This overstimulation feeds tons of impulses into the brain and disrupts the rest of the body.

You say you avoid food, yet overload with water.  Think about it. Just because water is a clear liquid doesn’t mean there is no digestion taking place.  There is no magic bypass to your bladder down there!

This may or may not help, but it was an issue for me.  Still need to drink, but keep it to small sips, not power chugging.  I drink water during the match, but not much the hour or so beforehand.

To add, I have had several MAJOR abdominal surgeries, nearly died multiple times.  I have spent a lot of time learning about it.  You would not believe how connected your guts are to the rest of your body.  Displaced pains at areas away from the abdomen, dementia like symptoms, racing heart beat, high blood pressure, and yes shaking and tremors of varying degrees in the extremities, just to name a few problems caused by brain and gut interaction.  Been there, done that, six months in a hospital bed while my intestines tried to murder me.


Last edited by willnewton on 8/20/2018, 5:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Jwhelan939 8/20/2018, 5:07 pm

Aprilian, yikes! That must have been nerve wracking! I have thought about trying yoga and yoga breathing. I hear it's fantastic for shooters. I will definitely try the purposeful breathing. I don't drink coffee during the summer, and I refrain from caffeine until after the match (my post match reward to myself is a coke).

Will, that's an interesting thought. I never thought of water having an effect. Makes sense though.

Thank you again for all of your help.

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Post by 285wannab 8/20/2018, 7:27 pm

If you get there an hour before a match I am sure that in the back of your mind all your thinking about is the match.  Probably not good.  Try showing up 15 minutes before the match.  You won't have time to start worrying about the match.
There is something called a group tightener but,  someone already mentioned that.
I think we were all in the same boat.  Just keep shooting.

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Post by Allgoodhits 8/20/2018, 8:42 pm

Jon Eulette wrote:Since your getting there early, go for a brisk walk and get your heart rate up. Then walk slow and cool down. You’ll find that it takes more to elevate it again. Try to learn how to treat your shot plan as a on/off switch. On to shoot the string and immediately off afterwards. Then BS with the other shooters between strings/scoring. Don’t constantly think about shooting. Work on the shot not the score. Scores are what raise heart rates! Match nerves are self inflicted. 
Jon
What he ^^^ said. 

The shot process is neutral. If it is good, follow it. Worrying about a "score" of an individual shot or target or match causes either excitement or anxiety. Both elevate HR/BP. Neither typically good for precision shooting in most cases. Re-enforce successes forget failures. This will lead to more successes. THWE - Train Hard Win Easy,

You don't, or shouldn't, measure life happiness by a single day, therefore don't measure match or target happiness by a single shot result. Once a shot is fired, it is over. Forget it. Shoot the shot you are shooting, period. No former shot, or future shot matters. If you are focusing on the present, now shot, it is impossible to be concerned about past shots or future scores. If you are concerned about the past shots or future shots, then you are not in the present, thus not "all there".
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Post by Jack H 8/20/2018, 11:17 pm

Has anyone said to warmup, stretch, light cardio prior a bit, eat light, hydrate, visualize, etc.
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Post by Tim:H11 8/21/2018, 12:10 am

I experienced what you’re talking about very early on - back when I first got into competive pistol shooting. I was a wreck. Horrible and uncontrollable breathing, shaking, and thumping heart rate. What helped me was a combination of things and not one trick or technique practiced. 

The problem as I see it is in the mind so the answer is there too. I was lucky to have a coach/mentor. The best thing he ever did for me was convince me that I am capable of achieving my goals and that I alone cause the nerves and match pressure and I alone can stop it. This is important! I alone cause the issues and I alone can solve this. Believe in that. 

He instilled confidence in me. And I mean real confidence. Not “I know I can do this .... I hope I can actually do this....” I mean the kind of confidence that is “I know what works, and I’m going to do just that and not have a fear of the outcome because I’m in control of what I’m doing and if I perform as I should then my desired outcome will be achieved or closely achieved”. And not just confidence but focus as well. Focus to the point when I’m on the gun it’s tunnel vision sort of and I’m in my own world. My mentor drove two major concepts into my head. 

One: 

Previous shots don’t matter because I can’t change them. Future shots don’t matter because I haven’t shot them yet. Other people’s scores don’t matter because I can’t control what they shoot. And my scores don’t matter because the score is the total outcome of your collective performance. Multiple shots. I can only ever control the one shot that’s in the chamber. That’s all. That’s where your thoughts have to be and without fear of screwing it up. You commit to your shot process like a ritual and know that if you do your job, it’ll be there on the paper. You have to trust that. 

And two:

“what is your job? To shoot tens. How do you do it? Maintain correct sight picture until the bullets out the end of the barrel. Trust this. Believe in this. Whole heartedly. 

It’s like faith if you’re a Godly man. You commit to the shot process with out question, with out fear, without want for the 10’s and X’s even though that’s totally what we want! But your wants need to change to a want for a solid performance. Not a performance dictated by the outcome. I mean the actually performance of the shot. Commit to the shot processes like a robot. The nerves will fall away if you make it more about the actions and letting those actions happen smoothly and on their own almost. And trust that the outcome will be right so long as you do your part. 

When I got to the point that I felt I had proven method for shooting then I stuck to it. Practiced it. Rehearsed it. Made the perfoamce my goal and not the targets outcome. And the fears and worries of failure or poor outcomes faded away. It’s not about wining or anything else you might say.... score, what ever. It’s all about you doing your job. And that’s the performance of a shot. Iliminate the unnecessary fears thoughts and doubts and focus just on your mechanics.
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Post by Jwhelan939 8/21/2018, 9:15 am

285, Allgood, Tim, and Jack

Thank you all for your thoughts. I will definitely try some of them out and see if they help. Some really great advice that makes a ton of sense. I am so close to expert that I think I am too focused and letting that get my nerves up. It didn't happen when I was a marksman shooting low marksman scores with little chance of advancement. I need to just stay focused on the process of each shot.   Thank you all again!

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Post by Chris Miceli 8/21/2018, 10:18 am

Jwhelan939 wrote:285, Allgood, Tim, and Jack

Thank you all for your thoughts. I will definitely try some of them out and see if they help. Some really great advice that makes a ton of sense. I am so close to expert that I think I am too focused and letting that get my nerves up. It didn't happen when I was a marksman shooting low marksman scores with little chance of advancement. I need to just stay focused on the process of each shot.   Thank you all again!
I’ve heard or read it somewhere.. I doubt I came up with it. Tell yourself it’s like me to shoot well and believe it!

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